Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand

A coastal ‘town,’ (i.e. one street) Kaikoura’s main/only attraction is off-shore. In 1842 to 1922 Europeans established a whaling station here. Some years later a group of four families founded Whale Watch, clever kiwis, and an industry was born. Ever the sceptic I was prepared to be slightly underwhelmed. Those crafty Goa and Amazon dolphins have out witted me both time’s I’ve seen them in the wild. Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of the little buggers. You can hear them laughing at you. However some marketing genius at Whale Watch came up with the idea to offer 80% refunds – No whales no fee, almost. Plus it’s not complete nautical hide and seek, they use sonar so have a 95% success rate. Sold.

 Twenty minutes in and another boat radios in a sighting 7 miles off the coast, it’s a male sperm whale that’s come to the area to feed. Now, here comes the science. Apparently sperm whales only come to the surface for about 10 – 15 minutes, which is all they need to top up their oxygen supplies. After that they have enough air for up to 2 hours. You can tell when they are about to dive as this is when they do the snorting of spray and the graceful slow motion role of the tail just on the surface, right before they disappear under.

We are on the water for two hours and see 3 sperm whales and two humpbacks (the HUGE ones, normally very elusive.) Plus dolphins, albatrosses, and seal mummies and their pups.

But back to the whales. Seeing them close up is absolutely stunning. Yes, they look like a small black blob in the photos, but hopefully the couple of videos (to follow on FB) will do them justice. I’ve replayed the tail flip one at least 100 times, its whale gold dust.

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An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

Blasts From The Past…

July 2011

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